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The rules as interpreted in this question: Is the maximum a task difficulty can be eased 4 without applying Effort? state that you cannot ease a difficulty by more than 2 levels with assets, however through the book there are examples of situations that would allow one to ease a task without stating it counts as an asset, as all assets ease a task, but nothing says that all eases count as an asset. So does everything that eases a task ignore the

An example: Say you have a player with the 'Murders' focus attacking an enemy with a light weapon and has gained surprise, the breakdown of all the bonuses in play(All highlighting my own):

  • 'Murders' focus power (+1 asset)

    Tier 1: Surprise Attack. If attacking from a hidden vantage, with surprise, or before an opponent has acted, you gain an asset to your attack. On a successful hit with this surprise attack, you inflict 2 additional points of damage. Enabler.

    Numenera Discovery pg.82

  • Light Weapon (+1 ease)

    Light weapons inflict only 2 points of damage, but they ease the attack roll because they are fast and easy to use.

    Numenara Discovery pg.95

  • Surprise (in this case +2 eases)

    When a target isn’t aware of an incoming attack, the attacker has an advantage. Attacks by a ranged sniper in a hidden position, an invisible assailant, or the first salvo in a successful ambush are all eased by two steps. For the attacker to gain this advantage, however, the defender truly must have no idea that the attack is coming. If the defender isn’t sure of the attacker’s location but is still on guard, the attacks are eased by only one step.

    Numenara Discovery pg.113

So in this case does the player lower the difficulty of the attack by 4, as they only had one named asset, or do they lower it by only 2, treating all these as assets, essentially invalidating half of their benefits?

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Reddit user sakiasakura give in this post a more exhaustive response on this matter.

TL;DR:

  • Players can ease a task using assets, effort, and skills after the GM has determined the final task difficulty. (page 102)
  • The GM's job assess changes to difficulty based on environmental effects. Therefore, environmental modifiers cannot be assets. (page 113)
  • Some rare abilities allow the player to ease tasks and don't count as assets or training. Therefore, if an ability allows a character to ease a task, and does not state that it is an asset or training, it does not count towards the character's limits. (page 128, side bar)
  • "Special abilities are things like esoteries, abilities granted through a character’s focus, or powers granted by cyphers or artifacts" therefore, Cyphers follow the rule stated on page 128 above (page 116)

(all page references are based on the Numenera Discovery corebook)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer makes more sense given the context of some powers, therefore I am giving it the green tick. \$\endgroup\$ – Lott Vanfield May 18 at 4:19
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Page 15 states only 3 things can ease difficulties: assets, skills and effort. It also states a skill can only ease by 2 levels at max and that anything that eases which isn't a skill is an asset. It then goes on the state assets can never ease more more than 2 steps. It also states skills are a category of knowledge, ability, or activity relating to a task.

Based on those definitions, the power explicitly says it grants an asset, light weapon is not a skill and therefore is an asset, surprise is also not a skill and therefore an asset, giving a total of 4 assets which are capped to 2 max, so you end up with 2 steps eased.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How to handle Special Abilities and possibly Cyphers that alone lowers the difficulty by three or more steps? \$\endgroup\$ – Ohmnibus Apr 11 at 11:02

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